ENGL 4039-003: Critical Thinking in English Studies, British Radicals of the Nineteenth Century

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Atheist, feminist, socialist, vegetarian, gay rights activist: these are just a few modes of radical politics that circulated in nineteenth-century Britain, in prose, poetry and fiction. We will consider how these authors arrived at their various politics of resistance and contrast their approaches with the growing liberalism of the age (which is a much more moderate approach). What did democracy look like in nineteenth-century Britain? How did literary authors in particular aim to articulate their particular ideals for democracy or for the rights of the underrepresented?  We will investigate the troubled relationship of literature and politics, while also exploring how literary techniques themselves might be read as political. Readings will be from authors such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Percy Shelley, S.T. Coleridge, Emily Brontë, J.S. Mill, A.C. Swinburne, Olive Schreiner, Vernon Lee, Oscar Wilde, Edward Carpenter. The course will require one short paper at the beginning of the term and a longer research paper at the end.

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